The Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council heard a presentation from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power on Monday and learned of its plan to close down Coldwater Canyon Avenue in March from Ventura Boulevard to Mulholland Drive for 28 working days starting on March 23, a project that is sure to create a litany of traffic and transportation problems.
Council President Jill Banks Barad and several other councilmembers, meeting at Sherman Oaks Elementary School, expressed their wish that a high-ranking member of the Department of Transportation could have also appeared to discuss the closure and other traffic issues in the neighborhood. According to Barad and other members, LADOT has turned a deaf ear to Sherman Oaks.
"We tried to get DOT here tonight to be our speaker," Banks Barad said, before turning to Councilmember Ron Ziff. "Will you tell the sad, sordid story? Note that they are not here."
Ziff then told the council and audience members his impressions of LADOT.
"I have been rather upset with DOT the last several years. Every time
I have had to talk to them, they say that as far as the traffic situation in Sherman Oaks, they have done everything that they can possibly do," Ziff said. "And my retort to that is, if you have already done everything that you can possibly do, why do you extort hundreds of thousands of dollars from developers for traffic mitigation, and you are never going to use that money? And I have gotten no answer."
Some on the council then discussed a previous meeting when a LADOT supervisor, Brian Gallagher, spoke and answered questions.
"Brian Gallagher is a nice guy, he’s a hard worker, but his job is to run the crews that paint crosswalks and red curbs in the Valley," Ziff said. "And the questions that he was asked were things about traffic jams and DOT commuter buses, and he isn’t qualified to answer that. He said so, and I believe him."
Several on the council then discussed the possibility of contacting Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge's office to help organize a town hall meeting—attended by a high-ranking representative of LADOT—in March to discuss the Coldwater closure and other traffic issues.
"There are so many things that are going on that are intolerable, and now with this [Coldwater Canyon] project going on it’s going to be even worse," Banks Barad said. "And they just will not respond to us at all. They are the department you love to hate, and this is why."
Council Vice President Jeff Ebenstein voiced concern over the domino effect the Coldwater closure could have on creating a traffic nightmare.
"I think we are getting some of the worst of it, not just because of the 405 expansion but the trunk line," Ebenstein said. "Everyone takes the canyons as an alternate route, so we’re getting the worst of it, and the least attention."
Stay tuned to Patch for news of the possible town hall meeting in March.